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Trade Show Checklist: Top 8 must-haves for your next booth.

Need to make a good first impression? Make sure you're prepped for your upcoming trade show, event or convention.

We’ve all seen the small vendors who show up with just their marketing brochures, their business cards, and some candy. They use the provided black table clothes and sign from the venue. These are my least favorite booths to interact with. They may have a great product that would be awesome for me, but their booth makes me want to avoid them. My advice: Don’t be these people. Trade Shows can be a great way to get in front of a large group of fairly qualified leads. Your success depends on your level of preparation. Even if you know you have a great brand, there are a lot of pieces to bring together to make your booth a raging success. We’ve compiled a list of the top 8 things to remember and prepare for to make sure you’re ready to attract the best leads to your booth.  

Table Throws

Production Time: 5-10 business days It’s a simple thing but it can mean the difference between getting noticed and getting passed by. You’ll want a tablecloth that shows who you are in a big way. The most effective design is just your logo, big and bright. Don’t make it complicated to read or figure out. Do you attend a lot of trade shows? It might be helpful to have a couple tablecloths in the 2 top standard sizes: 6ft & 8ft.  


Production Time: 5-10 business days Your needs for signage may vary depending on your investment at your booth. Great options include:
  • Backdrop
  • Table Top Signage
  • Floor Signs
Build your space thoughtfully with the right balance of signs that defines you from your competitors and shows off your brand.  


Production Time: 4-5 business days Signs draw attention; Your great sales pitch peeks interest; proper print collateral educates after first contact is over. Be sure to bring some sort of sales flyer or brochure that outlines what you do and how to take action.  

Promo Items

Production Time: 1-3 weeks Everybody likes free stuff—it’s a universal truth. What can you give away that will keep people remembering you long after the event? We like to give away items that our potential leads will want to use/wear over and over again. You don’t have to spend a fortune on the giant big ticket items. Journal notebooks, hats and webcam covers are some great items we see our clients ordering.  

Business Cards

Production Time: 2-3 Business Days The basics can sometimes be easy to overlook. Make sure you and all your attendees have an ample supply of business cards to give out. Not only will you need them at your booth, but every conversation is an opportunity, whether in line for a cab, or in the elevator on your way to your hotel room.  

Branded Apparel

Production Time: 4-6 Business Days You’ve gotta look the part! Having you and your staff in company-branded apparel is critical. Whether it’s left chest embroidery or clever printed t-shirts, branded apparel sells even when you’re not at your booth.  

Lead Forms

Production Time: 2-3 Business Days How are you going to keep track of all the lead opportunities you receive at this event? Many trade shows have lead management systems that allow you to scan badges to collect lead information. This makes things easy and paperless, but it can be expensive to buy that list after the show. Collecting business cards is always an option, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t have business cards on them. We always bring paper lead forms to all events so we ready to capture that lead contact information, what products/services they have interest, and any notes we should remember about our conversation. It never hurts to be prepared to capture a lead. After all, that’s why you’re there!  

Games, Gimmicks, Crowd Draws

Production Time: Varies A boring booth can make it tough to get people to approach. A fun activity can draw people in and lighten the mood, getting them ready for your excellent sales pitch. We take a prize wheel with us to raffle off prizes. Some companies have games like Cornhole to bring in people. Whatever you decide to be your draw, make sure it’s fun and in-line with your brand.  

Other Things to Remember

  • The Supplies Box - We call it our “Macgyver” kit—including pens, tape, rubber bands, stapler, paper clips, scissors, Swiss Army knife, zip ties, thread, etc
  • Power Strip and Extension Cords - you can never be too prepared.
  • Refreshments - A trade show is like a marathon. Amidst the churning crowds, you must pace yourself, maintain eyes on the prize, and, most importantly, keep hydrated. Bring the necessary snacks and water to survive the day.
We're helping companies just like yours maximize their effectiveness at Trade Shows all over the country. We provide custom design, printing and shipping for any custom trade show marketing materials you could want. We can't be sure if what we're doing for them will work for you. If you're interested in finding out, invite us in for a chat and we can find out together.

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